EFF Pleads to Make Jailbreaking Legal For all Devices

By , Dec 6, 2011

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked the US Copyright Office to make legal the jailbreaking of all consumer electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles. The proposal aims to remove jailbreaking, or gaining root access to a device, from being prohibited by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The EFF has also asked that electronic companies not oppose the jailbreaking of their products.

In July of 2010 the EFF won its first landmark case for this cause when the US government passed a law making the jailbreaking of Apple’s iPhone and iOS platform legal. Now, the EFF wants to make jailbreaking legal on all devices.

The EFF in an official statement:

“We were thrilled that EFF won important exemptions to the DMCA in the last rulemaking,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. “But technology has evolved over the last three years, and so it’s important to expand these exemptions to cover the real-world uses of smartphones, tablets, video game consoles, DVDs, and video downloads.”

If the US were to protect the jailbreaking of all consumer electronic devices, the rest of the industry would be subject to the same ruling that Apple already adheres to. It’s legal to jailbreak the iPhone, but Apple still has the right to combat jailbreakers (as it continues to do in iOS 5) with its company actions and warranty policies. Basically, you can’t go to prison for jailbreaking, but Apple can refuse you customer support.

“The DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement. But instead it can be misused to threaten creators, innovators, and consumers, discouraging them from making full and fair use of their own property,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “Hobbyists and tinkerers who want to modify their phones or video game consoles to run software programs of their choice deserve protection under the law. So do artists and critics who use short excerpts of video content to create new works of commentary and criticism. Copyright law shouldn’t be stifling such uses – it should be encouraging them.”

As Macworld points out, there are multiple positives and negatives to legalizing jailbreaking across the board. While we agree that jailbreaking tends to spur innovation, having low-level access does open up the potential for all kinds of security threats.

iOS has not yet seen a major case of users affected by malware due to jailbreaking, but there’s the possibility of a ‘Wild West’ malware environment if jailbreaking does indeed become legal for all consumer devices.

There have been multiple, high-profile examples of jailbreaking non-Apple devices and the legal ramifications that can follow. Originally responsible for jailbreaking the iPhone back in 2007, the infamous hacker known as GeoHot got in quite a bit of trouble for hacking the Sony PlayStation 3. More recently, another hacker from the iOS community has released a jailbreak for the Blackberry Playbook tablet.

The EFF has asked that the US Copyright Office protect jailbreaking as a legal practice across the board, and hearings for the proposed DMCA exemptions will be held in the spring of 2012.

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  • Anonymous

    thats a good approach

  • Anonymous

    If Apple would make file transfer in both directions as easy as on Macs, there’d be no reason to jailbreak . As it stands now with only having access through iTunes, the damn thing syncs to your computer and looses anything that you created on ios5 such as specific playlists created on an iPad , same thing with photos and mail.
    The ability to control folders on the iPad doesn’t exist easily as on macs, and I’m a Mac user since the 80s.s
    I don’t want to Jailbrake but I don’t see another way to make the iPad easy as it was meant to be.

  • http://twitter.com/oneBurge Burge

    Apple should let the end user decide if they want to jailbreak there device and so should all of the device makers, it’s our device not there’s ..just look at what’s been achieved from jailbreaking and where it’s now lead to with ios5…it’s up to us what we do with our device’s…

    • http://twitter.com/murdoc2k Alex

      Apple likes to have the ultimate control on the user experience. It’s why it has to own software, hardware and stores.

      Once jailbreaking becomes legal under apple’s terms, they will lose control of the user experience that makes everything “work”.

      I think rather than shunning the jailbreaking community out, apple should take microsoft’s approach with msgplus on msn. They should allow jail breakers to work with them to developer side plugins that apple approves like regular apps.

      This will reduce the workload of apple developers while making their OS better at the same time.

  • Ken P

    I paid $900 for my iPhone 4S….I want to do to it as I want….and I want to Jailbreak it. I should have to right to do so. Please Apple, open the doors.

  • Anonymous

    Goo EFF! Who wants to get a tattoo with me?

    • https://market.android.com/search?q=puzzleduck&so=1&c=apps PuZZleDucK

      I’m in!

  • Luis Finke

    i thought it was already legalized in 2010…?

  • Luis Serrano

    I love jail breaking but to me this isn’t the best idea, sure the jb is nice with all it’s tweaks but if companies just add the tweaks and themes that make jb popular this wouldn’t be a prob. In apples case letting Devs be able to have their things on the AppStore. Apple should open up to new ideas that the jb community has.

    The bad part is of course the piracy issues with jb, it’s not fair

  • Kok Hean

    Control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control, control AND more control.

    • http://twitter.com/oneBurge Burge

      I think you missed out the Apple likes to control .

  • Michael Cobley

    I just bought a MacBook Pro 17″ from an Apple store and told them that I would be voiding my warranty the same day. They gave me some great technical advice for swapping the optical drive for an SSD and swapping the 750GB internal drive for a second SSD and installing my own RAM or upgrading the CPU, etc… If you want more then what they give you, and your willing to void your warranty Apple will even help you to void that warranty if your willing to be direct with an Apple store employee and tell them what your project is.

    Sony should be more direct with it’s customers. If we want to void our warranty but install Linux we should still be able to play any games and Sony should be required to allow jail broken consoles play their games.